BHS staff face more uncertainty over closure

It has also emerged that liquidators Hilco are using BHS’s remaining 57 open shops to clear thousands of pounds worth of non-BHS goods, including Denby China – which is owned by Hilco – in a move staff branded “bizarre and insulting”, reports The Telegraph.

The 88-year-old retailer brought the shutters down on its flagship Oxford Street store for the final time on Saturday, heralding an end of an era for the former high street stalwart.

Meanwhile 57 shops, plastered with bright yellow and red “closing down sale” signs, are still continuing to trade.

It is understood that administrators at Duff & Phelps are still holding negotiations with prospective buyers, including Sports Direct and Primark, for the remaining stores, which is one of the reasons store closures have been delayed.

One worker at BHS’s shop in Bromley said that staff were on a three-day notice period but their final dates have been pushed back several times while administrators keep the stores open and clear stock.

Shop workers have been threatened with losing their redundancy pay if they leave before the notice period and told they must work for two days following the shop closure to dismantle tills, or face being docked a week’s pay. Duff & Phelps declined to comment.

“Most of us are trying to find new jobs but we can’t tell our employers when we can start. I don’t want to leave with nothing, but it’s stopping me from getting another job. I believe it is a way of saving on redundancy pay, but they are holding us to ransom,” said one staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

BHS’s remaining stores are being crammed with second-hand DVDs, random doorsteps, phone accessories and stacks of Denby China crockery.

Hilco rescued Denby out of administration in 2009 and has doubled its revenues since taking advantage of the heritage brand’s reputation overseas to boost its international business.

A person close to the process said that the liquidators had brought in stock from thousands of different suppliers to boost the income for BHS’s creditors and said that fresh deliveries of non-BHS stock were not the reason for shop closure delays. Hilco declined to comment.

BHS’s liquidators are also selling off  all store fixtures and fittings, including signs and mannequins, in an effort to recoup as much as possible for the failed retailer’s creditors.

As a secured creditor, Sir Philip Green will receive the full £35m he is owed provided the liquidators and administrators recover enough.

The Pension Protection Fund is BHS’s largest unsecured creditor and has estimated that it will cost at least £300m to provide for BHS’s pensioners. Around 20,000 pensioners face a cut to their pension while 11,000 workers will have lost their jobs from BHS’s demise.

Meanwhile, Sir Philip continues to be in negotiation with the Pensions Regulator after promising MPs he would “sort” the retailer’s pension scheme two months ago. Since making that pledge BHS’s £571m pension deficit has widened as a result of the fall in sterling and the Bank of England’s rate cut. His advisers at Deloitte are working on a “Project Atlantic” to set up a vehicle that will mean money will go directly to BHS pensioners, rather than to the PPF. Experts say that this type of solution will cost the Topshop tycoon significantly less than a full buyout, although the Pensions Regulator, which is conducting a separate anti-avoidance investigation into the billionaire, will have to approve it.